Archive for Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Pom squad coach may lose job following student drinking incident

October 10, 2006


Several parents, former students and students asked Lawrence's school board Monday night not to fire Lawrence High School's Pom Squad coach.

However, the board approved a resolution of intent to terminate Ashley Stewart's supplemental contract as the squad's coach based on an incident involving alcohol at the Sept. 30 homecoming game.

Board President Sue Morgan said the board was not able to publicly comment on the reason for the termination.

However, Morgan said those who want to support Stewart would be able to do so during a hearing process, if Stewart asks for a hearing within five days.

Stewart said Monday night that she has notified the board in writing that she will ask for a formal hearing to look into the matter.

"It was blown out of proportion," said Stewart, who has been the Pom Squad coach at the school for six years.

According to Stewart, the incident involved a student who was on the LHS Pom Squad who apparently had an alcoholic drink several hours before the Sept. 29 LHS homecoming football game.

Stewart said she asked the student at the game if the girl had been drinking because she could smell alcohol on the student's breath.

Stewart said she allowed the girl to cheer at the game, then made sure the girl had a ride home from the game.

Stewart said she informed the girl's parents and her supervisor the next day.

She said she was told she was fired Oct. 2 because she didn't tell her supervisor the very night of the incident.

Among those supporting Stewart were Sandy Murray, who read a letter from her daughter, Abbey, a 2005 LHS graduate and a former member of the squad.

Other supporters included Emily Thomas, a Kansas University student and former member of the LHS Pom Squad, and two current squad members, Brittany Bruhns and Brooke Massey.

"If you guys take Ashley Stewart away from that pom squad, you're making a huge mistake," said Rodney Bruhns, Brittany's father.

According to a resolution approved by the board, the reasons for the termination were "incidents of unprofessional conduct, including failure to support and comply with Board polices of providing a drug- and alcohol-free environment for students (Policies JDDA and JCABBC), the board policy for ethical conduct (Policy GBU), and the board policy for staff-student relations (Policy GAF)."

The resolution said Stewart would be suspended with pay from her employment duties as of Oct. 9.


craigers 11 years, 7 months ago

Right on aeroscout. Where are all the people backing this coach up like Gentry?

Steve Mechels 11 years, 7 months ago

Gosh, seems like a bit of an over-reaction since I seem to recall a certain principal that had a DUI and still has a job...

roger_o_thornhill 11 years, 7 months ago

It didn't occur to me until this morning, but " alcoholic drink several hours before..." would no longer be in a person's system. Even an 85lb woman (which I doubt she was). Me thinks she had a bit more to drink than what's been reported. The body metabolizes alcohol faster than that.

concernedvoter 11 years, 7 months ago

This incident was during a school activity and involved a student drinking then leaving with another student and parents/district not knowing until a day or 2 later. Safety of the kid is involved. Very different from what the principal did on her own time.

estespark 11 years, 7 months ago

I agree with concernedvoter...there is a big difference between a principal getting a DUI on her own time and a high school student with alcohol on her breath at a school sponsored event in which she was a direct participant and (supposedly) under faculty supervision.

I just wonder where they'll find a suitable replacement Pom coach...

roger_o_thornhill 11 years, 7 months ago

"incidents"? Is that what the resolution said? How many?

Both the article and the first two posts here illustrate how alcohol isn't treated like anything bad. I thought extracurricular activities at schools were supposed to be alcohol and drug free. I thought a DUI was a pretty bad thing too--after all it is the same thing (class A misdemeaner) as possession of reefer. Would a principal be allowed to stay on if he was caught with the pot? Would you all defend the coach if the girl had come to a game with bloodshot eyes and a twinkie hanging out of her mouth?

prioress 11 years, 7 months ago

This has been blown way out of proportion and she is being made an example. Reprimand her and get over it!

Good points; I agree.

geekin_topekan 11 years, 7 months ago

Dang!Next thing you know these pom girls will be posing for men's magazines as a result of this under aged,prematurely-adult oriented activities. (Beg your pardon?Really....?) NEVER MIND!

letsgetwise 11 years, 7 months ago

She shouldn't be fired. She informed them the next day. What was she suppose to do? Call her supervisor on Friday night to let them know? I don't think so.

kujeeper 11 years, 7 months ago

That's BS, Gentry's a drunk and has been for years but they let her stay on board. However the POM coach shouldn't have let the girl cheer that night

Christine Pennewell Davis 11 years, 7 months ago

It say a drug and achohol free enviroment, and it was, just a partisapant that was not so I think the girl should be taken off the squad. I am glad she did not let the girl leave on her own made her stay and watched her and then made sure the girl had a ride home. The fact the the coach did not tell her boss right off does not bother me that much because she did tell. I am glad she informed the partents and all parties that needed to be told. It seems like the board just does not like the time table in which she, coach, handled this but the student was the important part of all this and if the coach had just said you have been drinking go home how would she have done this? behind the wheel of a car?

lawrence_citizen 11 years, 7 months ago

If she smelled alcohol on the students breath, why did she allow her to participate? She is putting the student and other students at risk. She should have done something immediately. She should be fired.

mistygreen 11 years, 7 months ago

My thoughts are: 1). Is the drinking student still able to participate in the squad? I never read anything in the article to indicate any type of punishment for the student. I suppose there are privacy issues. But in my opinion, if she had been drinking she should be kicked off automatically, no if's, and's or but's. Why have a zero tolerence policy if it is not enforced?
2). Has the sponser dealt with this before? I realize that drinking at games has been a long time issue, but I did not notice any comments in the article whether she has delt with this before. If she has not, then I am of the opinion to learn from this lesson and that she needs to be reprimanded, but not fired. If she has delt with this situation before, then yes fire her, because she really should know better.

prioress 11 years, 7 months ago

Another point being left out of all this: The sponsor has no property right to the supplemental contract to be a pom pon sponsor. If it were me (and the facts as presented are accurate) I wouldn't "fire" her. She needs to tighten up the ship and lean on the kids. Also, I'd not suggest the girl be kicked off the squad. Keep her on the bench for a bit, work with her and keep her supervised. Kicking kids off teams when they are already abusing just gives them a chance to learn how to do it right.

concernedvoter 11 years, 7 months ago

If she'd hurt herself in a jump while participating at the game or if something had happened with the student that took her home (given that a district sponsor placed an intoxicated minor into the hands of another minor), I don't think "lighten up" would be the response.

biz 11 years, 7 months ago

So basically if the pom coach had just shut her mouth and not told anyone, then she wouldn't be in trouble now.

Kontum1972 11 years, 7 months ago

send her to Iraq .....that will teach her...yeah...thats the ticket.....IRAQ ....LETS FIND SOMEONE ELSE TO TERMINATE.....LYNCH MOB...NOW!


John Hathaway 11 years, 7 months ago

I support this person because My Friend and I know her because she is always there for everyone on the pom squad.

However, I do agree with the school district regardless of what they do practice and taken action of what happens.

towne27 11 years, 7 months ago

The student supposedly had one drink several hours before the game. This should not be a matter of this one student and coach. I go to the football games and half if not more of the student a section is drunk or at one point that night were drinking. I can smell it on their breath how come no other LHS staff member can. Is that not a danger as well? You cannot judge this one student and coach without bringing in the rest of the student body and entire administration.

prioress 11 years, 7 months ago

I go to the football games and half if not more of the student a section is drunk or at one point that night were drinking. I can smell it on their breath how come no other LHS staff member can.

This points out the irony (and stupidity) of the recent urge to drug test students, particularly student athletes. The most dangerous drug is alcohol, and none of the testing programs deal with it.

CindiCat 11 years, 7 months ago

Wow, I thought this kind of stuff only happened in "small town schools":..Coaches, Teachers and Administrators "protecting" the elite kids.

With that being said:::if the school has a policy of ZERO tolerance of alcohol and drugs and the "Pom" Coach KNEW this::then she should have prevented this girl from performing with the rest of the squad. This girl should not have participated for this one game. Chances are that young girl's parents were there to watch their daughter perform so; the Coach could have singled them out and told them of the circumstance. Let the "proud" parents deal with that young girl.

By allowing the young girl to still perform, the Coach was condoning that young girl's action. What a nice message to the rest of school::.ya, you can drink but guess what, you can still cheer or dance or play that sport that you practiced.

Those few girls on the squad who are grinchin about this Coach's firing are probably doing that because just maybe there is a "remote" possibility that this Coach has covered for others before? Just a guess/hunch.

The young girl should be kicked off the squad ASAP. Keeping her on will just let the rest of the squad know that hey, she did it and got away with it, so can we!!

This Coach is sending the wrong message to these young kids. If she wants to be a positive "role model" for these kids, step up to the plate and take your punishment.

Confrontation 11 years, 7 months ago

cougarcat: Perhaps it would be good if you were kicked off the team. You could start spending more time studying English and other important subjects.

Godot 11 years, 7 months ago

The game started at 7 on Friday night, and the pom pom girls arrived before the start of the game. The girl had a drink "several hours before."

So, she was drinking during school hours. I'd be checking that angle, too.

dbe 11 years, 7 months ago

Really interested in this outcome. Sorry to say, it's not the first time. Frustated at the Oskaloosa High School district. Yes, the student should have been removed from the team for the school year. Teenagers do not "have" to drive. But as adults with dependants, they do. Better to teach the harsh lessons at a younger age.

KaraGourley 11 years, 7 months ago

Where does it say she made sure she got a ride home with another student. I didn't see that in the article. It said the coach made sure she had a ride home. Whos to say she didnt just make sure someone was there to drive her. Parent of hers, parent of another, sure it could of been another friend, but I dont see where it says that.

I dont think she should be fired. She did address the issue. Maybe it was the following day but it was addressed.

The student should be punished in some way. We dont have all the facts so I can't say off the squad is the appropriate thing. Now IF a contract was signed to not drink alcohol/use drugs. Sure follow the contract....

justthefacts 11 years, 7 months ago

I don't have a child in school now and don't know any of the involved parties, so I may not be even entitled to an opinion. But I was/am wondering; how many people (show of hands now) ever drank liquor while still under the age of 21? Anyone who honestly can say "NO" may be entitled to get up on a high horse and rail against this teacher and/or the instances of teens drinking. Anyone who admits to such behaviors should probably back up and remember what it was like "back then". Not condoning or judging. Just wondering about how often we are giving inconsistent messages to our children (and society).

Kelly Powell 11 years, 7 months ago

the lesson here is....Do not drink before the game....That is what those pills are for.

ku_redandblue 11 years, 7 months ago

I know the coach! She is amazing. She is a dedicated coach, KU alumni, teacher, mentor, etc. She followed protocal. Maybe she could have contacted her supervisor that night, but by calling the very next day, she did what she felt best. She has given 6 years of hard work, dedication, and support to those girls. She always gives 110% on everything she does! She should NOT be fired! Anyone who knows her, knows that would be the biggest mistake. They will NEVER be able to replace her. No one could fill her shoes. This has been blown way out of proportion and she is being made an example. Reprimand her and get over it!

Linda Endicott 11 years, 7 months ago

I have supervisors like that. Chances are, even if she HAD contacted her supervisor that very night, she would have been told to handle it the best way she knew how, because no supervisor ever wants to be bothered on Fri., Sat., or Sun.

They expect others to deal with things on those days, but they don't want to be inconvenienced.

justmehere 11 years, 7 months ago

It sounds to me like the sponsor was trying to give the girl the benefit of the look where it got her.

I think the girl involved should voluntarily give up her pom pons...that would be a decent thing to do considering a teacher's job is at stake....

Perhaps the sponsor should have just pulled the girl that night and told everyone else that there was a sudden illness? I've seen routines with people absent before...big deal, the show still goes on. At least the sponsor's job wouldn't be on the line now.

And I respect the fact that the sponsor did report the incident to both the parents and the supervisor. How many football coaches overlook the same incident involving their players?? Wasn't there something about jocks taking speed or caffeine pills not too long ago? Didn't see anyone losing any jobs over that... Hmmm........

jhawkfan05 11 years, 7 months ago

Well i say that she should be fired. Would they give a cheerleader or a pom girl and hearing to defend their self no. Ms. Wedd would NOT you would be gone it is in the code of conduct. So i dont think if is fair that she get another chance. So what needs to happen is the coach needs remove and so does the student!!!!

lionsfan 11 years, 1 month ago

"Those few girls on the squad who are grinchin about this Coach's firing are probably doing that because just maybe there is a "remote" possibility that this Coach has covered for others before? Just a guess/hunch."

Hey CindiCat, how low of a person are you if you think that their defense of a coach they value and care about is solely because the coach has covered for them in the past? Grow up cold hearted person.

And you who said that the student had been drinking during school was an idiot too considering there was a 7 hour gap between school and the game. Way to go.

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